by Susan Devlin, Stevensville
I have a number of major concerns regarding the town’s new administration.
During and after the January 13, 2022 Town Council meeting, several disturbing actions took place. First, mayor Gibson said there was “no correspondence” but shortly after stated “Item 12, we received a correspondence yesterday afternoon from an individual voicing some concerns. After reviewing the concerns with the town attorney, we determined that we could not move forward at this time with 12 new business items due to the fact that the former mayor did not follow proper procedures for filling vacancies” (Didn’t that mean there was correspondence?) Actually that procedure is the responsibility of the Town Clerk – who has posted vacancies in the past at least four times – all in a timely manner.
After the meeting was adjourned by Mayor Gibson, he made a statement to KPAX-TV’s Dennis Bragg which is quite different than what he said at the town council meeting a few short minutes before. In this statement, it’s reported “but new Mayor Steve Gibson says a citizen raised a concern that former mayor Brandon Dewey or Council president Paul Luddington (sic) should have moved to fill the openings, rather than wait for the new administration.” Again, it is not the responsibility of the town council president or the mayor to post openings. It is in the job description of the Town Clerk – who has posted openings at least 4 times…. and, again, always in a timely manner. And it’s an out and out lie that the concerned citizen put the blame on Ludington or Dewey, but put it squarely where it belonged – the Town Clerk. Mayor Gibson did not even mention Mr. Ludington during the town council meeting, just added his name later. And certainly did not tell the truth about what the concerned citizen’s correspondence actually addressed.
At the swearing in of the mayor and two council members on January 3, 2022, no advance notice was given to the public. With the two council members present (the only town council members), they created a quorum, which by law, must be posted in advance to the public. According to a person present, the “room was packed” – I presume all family and friends as no notice had gone out to the public.
Mayor Gibson also said at the January 11, 2022 meeting, that Jenelle, the Town Clerk, had had to work all by herself the whole month of December – that she had to take on “the duties of 4 people” and he lauded her for this quite lavishly. I believe he actually used the word “desertion” by other town employees. Actually, this is a total lie Laura Miller’s last day of work was December 24, 2021, Nancy Olson’s last day of work was December 24, 2021, Bobby Sonstang’s last day of work was December 24, 2021 and Brandon Dewey’s last day of work was December 30, 2021. So she had ample work support.
I had e-mailed the Town Clerk prior to the end of December to find out what date, time and place the swearing in was going to occur. I finally got an answer from her the afternoon of January 3, 2022 – advising me that the swearing in had already taken place that morning, starting shortly after 9:00 a.m.
This is a special town that I care about deeply. I am very concerned that the new mayor has chosen to begin his administrative tenure with duplicity and lies.